Tohoku J. Exp. Med., 2021 March, 253(3)

Review

Mental Health and Physical Activity among Children and Adolescents during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Junko Okuyama,1,2 Shuji Seto,2,3 Yu Fukuda,4 Shunichi Funakoshi,5 Shintaro Amae,6 Jun Onobe,7 Shinichi Izumi,1 Kiyoshi Ito2,3 and Fumihiko Imamura2,3

1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
2Core Research Cluster of Disaster Science, Tohoku University, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
3International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), Tohoku University, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
4Notre Dame Seishin University, Okayama, Okayama, Japan
5Miyagi Psychiatric Center, Natori, Miyagi, Japan
6Sendai Ekoh Medical and Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Severe Motor and Intellectual Disabilities, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
7Department of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medical Science and Welfare, Tohoku Bunka Gakuen University, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is causing disruptions in the global social system. Japanese children and adolescents have had their schools closed, government-mandated activity restrictions imposed, and interactions outside the home reduced. These restrictions can have a considerable psychological impact on children and adolescents. This review aims to describe the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity and psychological status of this population. The review was conducted by searching PubMed for information on the impact of COVID-19related activity restrictions on children and adolescents. The search identified 11 articles, three of which contained data on anxiety and psychological problems due to physical inactivity. Next, a PubMed search was conducted about physical activity and psychological status in children and adolescents under psychological stress. The search identified 368 articles, 28 of which were included in the review. For children, data that revealed a correlation between physical activity and psychological health and sedentary time leading to mood disorders were included. For adolescents, there were nine studies that reported a correlation between physical activity and psychological health and four studies that reported no correlation between physical activity and psychological health. Of the studies that reported a correlation, seven reported that physical activity improves psychological health. The impact of psychologically stressful situations such as COVID-19 on children and adolescents has been experienced worldwide. Physical activity has been correlated with psychological health, and it may improve psychological status; physical activity should be recommended to better support the psychological health of children and adolescents under the influence of COVID-19.

Key words —— coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic; disaster medicine; mental health; physical activity; school restriction

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Tohoku J. Exp. Med 2021 253, 203-215.

Correspondence: Junko Okuyama, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, 2-1 Seiryo-machi, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8575, Japan.

e-mail: junko.okuyama@med.tohoku.ac.jp